From the Desk of the President (2/2004)

Announcements - please read the January GA  highlights for opportunities to represent Local 34 at union events, the 3/11/04 Day on the Hill and the    3/12 13, 2004 Council 14 Convention. 

Nominations for officers will be taken at both the February 4, 2004 and the March 3, 2004 General Assembly meetings. If you cannot attend either meeting, you can contact our Nominations Chair, Jean Ayer, directly to put a name forward for a position. All nominees must be, per our Constitution, be a dues-paying member in good standing for 12 full months prior to the February 2004 GA. If you have any questions about the duties and requirements of an  office, talk to the sitting officer or call me. The work is tough but the rewards are immeasurable. 

One very important "Thank You" was missing from my article in the January newsletter and I would be remiss if I failed to do so now. That thanks is due your Table Team who did a wonderful job of attending the many negotiation sessions with the Employer and doing the necessary work to bring our information to the table. This job, which is not an easy one and is very wearing on the body and the spirit, often goes without much in the way of thanks. The Table Team represented you extremely well - speaking up for you and your contractual rights when they were threatened, discussing your concerns with members of the other AFSCME Locals' Table Teams and, in general, doing the work of this Local. So, whether or not you agree with the end results of the contract process, please join me in thanking Andrea Lennox, Charissa Bryant, Clifford Robinson, Dennis Miller, Elizabeth Portlance, Laurie Simon, Lindsay Schwab and Wes McGee for all the hard work and endless hours spent serving on your Table Team. 

Also, our Business Agent, Matt Nelson, did a wonderful job speaking on our behalf and I thank him for that. 

It is also that time of the year when the Local starts to ask folks to indicate an interest in serving on the various committees of our Local. All members are welcomed to participate on the committees. The one that is especially important this year and will need many members is the PEOPLE Committee. We need to be actively involved in the political process, from the caucus room to the election room. The Council 14 PEOPLE Committee will have plenty of endorsed candidates in need of assistance. Contact our current co-chairs, Vicki Moore and Wes McGee, for information about some of the work that we do to see if this something that will grab your interest. 

I recently ran into one of my former clients at the grocery store. We see each other often enough that I now get to see pictures of her grandchildren and, last week, her first great-grandchild. We have a long history, as she was my client when I first started working as an Eligibility Technician in AFDC in 1980. She reminds me that she holds me responsible for her employment ups and downs as I always encouraged her to apply for a job with the County. She is now facing a change in her job due to reassignment and is not particularly thrilled about it. Her first comment was "I'm really happy doing the work I've been doing for the past six years and would like to keep doing it as I am getting too old for many more changes." Then she stated that she was even more concerned about her clients as they have been going through so many changes and, if she is having a hard time with steady income, what must they be going through? Our conversation reminded me of a quote from John F. Kennedy that I keep by my desk, "Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future." We talked about how much our jobs have changed over the years and how much more they are likely to change before we get to retire and decided that we were just going to keep on doing the best job that we can do with the tools that we have at our disposal. That being said, I told her that we all need to keep a close eye to make sure that our contract is not violated as more work is added to our load. It is going to be an interesting year - one where the changes will come fast so we will need to remain educated about what our contract covers and what the Employer can or cannot do under the terms of that contract. If ever in doubt, make sure that you check with an officer or steward as soon as possible so that we can stay on top of the changes. 

In Solidarity,